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Health briefs: Daily helping of chocolate may ward off stroke, heart attack

Chocolate each day to keep the doctor away

A daily nibble of dark chocolate may slash the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than one-third, a study of 20,000 middle-aged Germans found. Researchers tracked participants for a decade to unravel the ties between chocolate and heart disease, and unexpectedly found the biggest benefit lay in warding off strokes. Eating an extra 6 grams of chocolate a day, or less than two Hershey's Kisses, could prevent 85 heart attacks and strokes in every 10,000 people over a decade, said Brian Buijsse, lead researcher of the study published Tuesday by the European Heart Journal. The report provides more evidence about the beneficial effects of chocolate, particularly the dark variety that's rich in cocoa and potentially protective compounds called flavanols, said Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal. But the findings shouldn't be used as a license to binge on chocolate, which could lead to obesity and harm the heart, Buijsse said.

Back to a single flu vaccine next fall

Those who received both the seasonal flu and H1N1 swine flu vaccines in recent months may take comfort in knowing that next fall, there will only be one shot. That's because the current H1N1 strain will be incorporated into the annual seasonal vaccine, says Dr. Leonard Krilov, chief of the division of pediatric infectious disease at Children's Medical Center at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. The seasonal flu vaccine always has contained three strains of the flu, Krilov says. The recent H1N1 strain will replace a former H1N1 strain that hasn't been largely circulating in the population, Krilov says. The belief is that the fewer vaccines a person has to get, the more likely it is a person will comply with the recommendation to get one, Krilov says.

Bigger isn't better in car crashes

Extra padding in an automobile accident is not a good thing — not when that padding comes from fat. Scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin's Injury Research Center and elsewhere analyzed data on almost 11,000 drivers involved in front-end crashes; they also crafted computer models and crash simulations. Their conclusion: In automobile accidents, obese men are much more likely to sustain serious upper body injuries than are normal-weight men. Researchers acknowledge that additional study is needed to put a fine point on the body mass index-risk connection. The full driver-injury study is published in the March issue of PLoS Medicine (plosmedicine.org).

Blood drive honors longtime donor

Florida College in Temple Terrace is hosting a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today in honor of longtime donor and alumni Michael Crim, who died at age 41 in a skiing accident in December. His widow, Cyndi, works at the school and their son is a student there. Crim donated 4 gallons of blood over the years and was an organ and tissue donor. Florida Blood Services says type O blood is in short supply, but all blood types are needed to get through the holiday weekend.

Times staff, wires

THE POWER OF PINK

"It would take a very courageous politician to go up against mammograms."

Karsten Jorgensen, author of a new Danish study questioning breast cancer screening's value.

Health briefs: Daily helping of chocolate may ward off stroke, heart attack 03/31/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 5:04pm]
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